NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 1
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"
Somewhat sad that I pull a quote from Michael Corleone from a Godfather movie and it's not either the original or Part 2 (both amazing) but the largely awful third one. Still, it's a bit apt here as I was pondering finally walking away from doing Survivor stories this year at Doc's but for some reason they remain quite popular with you readers. So thanks for that!
I am in several Survivor and Confidence Pools again this year, and I almost never put all my eggs in one basket. So, if I was to list a team in the No. 16 spot - which means that's my most confident pick - it definitely doesn't mean that's the team I will use in each Survivor Pool. Have said this before and will again: You need to play "defense" some weeks. I'll just remind those of you who were on the Minnesota Vikings last year in Week 3. Minnesota was a 17-point home favorite over the Buffalo Bills, and the Vikings got spanked 27-6.
It was the biggest NFL upset in 23 years, but there's usually at least one double-digit underdog who pulls an upset each year. The Bills were the 15th underdog of 17 or more points to win a game in the Super Bowl era. Minnesota's six points were the fewest scored by a team favored by at least 17 points in recorded history. Yep, I did lose in a couple of Survivor Pools in that game but avoided the Vikings in a few others. I'm guessing many of you probably do multiple entries in some Survivor competitions.
Let's also remind players to NOT save a team for later in the season. Injuries do and will happen. Tom Brady is 42 years old. I would say it's more likely than not that he doesn't play every game despite some amazing durability. No position player at least that old has ever started all 16 games in a season.
Just a quick reminder of what Survivor and Confidence Pools are if you are new to them. A Survivor Pool is when you pick one team per week to win a game and then you aren't allowed to use that club again. If that team ties or loses, you are out. A Confidence Pool is when you pick winners of every game on the schedule with your most confident pick at 16 when all 32 teams are in action. Next most confident at 15, etc.
Just like last year, I will go in order of how I would most likely pick in a Confidence Pool. Do NOT make a pick if you can help it until right ahead of the Sunday deadline (for Survivor). There are always late injuries or suspensions that can come out of nowhere. I'll never use a Thursday or Monday game as my Survivor pick because then you are essentially stuck if something were to happen to a key player before kickoff. I try to avoid rivalry games in a Survivor Pool as well because you can often just throw the team records out the window.
Let's make some money! The team listed first is my choice … Week 1 is always the toughest to handicap. Going heavy on the home teams for that reason.
16. Seattle vs. Cincinnati: Seattle is always a very tough place to play. The Bengals are pretty weak at receiver with AJ Green out at least Week 1. I do worry about the Seahawks' receiving group too, though, with Doug Baldwin's retirement. But we have to pick someone.
15. Philadelphia vs. Washington: This no doubt will be the top choice in many competitions, and it's easy to see why. Washington might be the NFC's worst team depending on if Kyler Murray is any good as a rookie. Still, this is a rivalry game, and we didn't see Carson Wentz at all this preseason. He also has a much weaker backup now with Nick Foles gone.
14. Cleveland vs. Tennessee: Are you aware the Browns have just one Week 1 victory since they returned to the NFL? However, this Browns team surely is the most talented in that stretch, and the Titans clearly have a quarterback problem.
13. Minnesota vs. Atlanta: I think the Vikings will be very good this season, perhaps as good as they were in 2017 instead of the team that disappointed last year. Unfortunately, that might mean winning the NFC North over my Bears.
12. New England vs. Pittsburgh: The Sunday night game as the Patriots celebrate their latest Super Bowl title (wonder how Robert Kraft will be welcomed in the wake of his off-field news). Pittsburgh has never won at New England with Tom Brady at quarterback.
11. New Orleans vs. Houston (Monday): Saints are my pick to finally win the Super Bowl after devastating playoff losses the past two years. Houston has to incorporate a new left tackle (Laremy Tunsil) and featured running back (Duke Johnson).
10. Baltimore at Miami: Pretty sure the Dolphins have the NFL's worst roster as they are flat-out tanking for Tua. The heat and humidity could affect the Ravens a bit, though.
9. LA Chargers vs. Indianapolis: Don't just assume that the Colts are going to stink after losing Andrew Luck. Jacoby Brissett has a much better roster around him than he did in 2017. Apparently the Chargers won't have Melvin Gordon but were 4-0 without him last year.
8. Dallas vs. NY Giants: Move this up the list if Ezekiel Elliott plays - is he even in shape? - and down if he doesn't.
7. Chicago vs. Green Bay (Thursday): Is the tide turning in this rivalry? Been watching the Packers spank the Bears forever it seems, but Chicago now clearly has the better roster everywhere but quarterback.
6. Tampa Bay vs. San Francisco: Bruce Arians is a fine coach. And if he can get the best out of Jameis Winston, the Bucs could surprise in 2019. The Niners, meanwhile, have lost their past 12 in the Eastern Time Zone.
5. NY Jets vs. Buffalo: Much rather have Sam Darnold than Josh Allen among the two second-year quarterbacks in this one. Le'Veon Bell makes the Jets that much better.
4. Detroit at Arizona: Honestly not sure what to expect from Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury, but when Lions head coach Matt Patricia was the DC in New England, the Patriots destroyed rookie quarterbacks.
3. Carolina vs. LA Rams: I'm calling a bit of a Super Bowl-losing hangover for the Rams early this year and not convinced Todd Gurley will ever be the same.
2. Denver at Oakland (Monday): It's the last-ever season opener in Oakland with the team moving to Vegas. The Raiders were interesting on "Hard Knocks," but Denver has a vastly superior defense and that will be enough for a close win.
1. Jacksonville vs. Kansas City: The Chiefs' offense could be incredible, no question. Not sold at all on that defense even with a ton of offseason changes. Jags should be much improved offensively with Blake "Turnover" Bortles replaced by Nick Foles.
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